Erasing US History In Our Schools: Will America Become A Distant Memory?

American history is being erased, and erasing US history in our public schools will wipe out the good as well as the “bad.” Teaching American history in our public schools and universities has been a low priority for years. According to a 2014 report by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, an abysmal 18% of American high school kids were proficient in US history. This number declined to 15% in 2018.

The News and Observer reported that North Carolina is “overhauling what students will learn in social studies classes, putting more emphasis on managing credit cards and spending less time on U.S. history.” Some high schools and universities “decline to require Western Civilization classes or high schools propose changing their curriculum so that history is taught only from 1877 onward (this happened in North Carolina),” according to the New York Post. In 2012, 88% of elementary school teachers considered teaching history a low priority. In the beginning of the year, NC high school students will take one less US history class. Fifty states are now teaching American history differently. Why?

Our past is under assault, and to resurface old wounds that have been healed prevents us from moving forward as a people and as a nation. Since we declared our independence from Great Britain, this country has made progress to ensure equality for all. From the Civil War where over half a million Americans died to the Civil Rights Movement, this country has made significant strides to allow everyone the same opportunity to succeed in this country.

For the past several months, how does destroying public property, assault, looting, and murder help? Instead of violence, where are the Rosa Parks of the world? The violent protesting and the destruction of statues (such as Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln) clearly shows historical ignorance. I quote Martin Luther King Jr, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” ~ George Orwell

Do we really need to “do more” or have we just eradicated what’s been done? In 2020, we cannot be divided! WE ARE THE UNITED STATES!

Take some time and read below what this country has done to promote equality and opportunity for everyone. A Historical Timeline:

1776: The Declaration of Independence, America’s founding document, addressed equality. Did you know Jefferson started the anti-slavery conversation?  He drafted a 168-word passage condemning slavery as one of the many evils foisted upon the colonies by the British crown. “[King George] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither.”

1831: Abolitionism and the Underground Railroad. The early abolition movement in North America was fueled both by slaves’ efforts to liberate themselves and by groups of white settlers, such as the Quakers, who opposed slavery on religious or moral grounds.

1863: The Emancipation Proclamation. After the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln made it official that enslaved people within any state, or designated part of a state in rebellion, “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

1865: The 13th Amendment officially abolished slavery

1867: The 14th Amendment broadened the definition of citizenship, granting “equal protection” of the Constitution to people who had been enslaved.

1870: The 15th Amendment guaranteed that a citizen’s right to vote would not be denied “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

Erasing US History In Our Schools: Will America Become A Distant Memory?

1900’s: As the 19th century came to an end and segregation took ever–stronger hold in the South, many African-Americans saw self–improvement, especially through education. For example, Booker T. Washington, the author of the bestselling “Up From Slavery” (1900), was an inspiration. George Washington Carver, another former enslaved man and the head of Tuskegee’s agriculture department, helped liberate the South from its reliance on cotton by convincing farmers to plant peanuts, soybeans and sweet potatoes in order to rejuvenate the exhausted soil.

1909: NAACP Founded

“We cannot change what happened yesterday, but what we do today can achieve a better tomorrow.” ~ Greg Hahn

1920: Harlem Renaissance. Mainstream publishers and critics turned their attention seriously to African-American literature, music, art and politics. Blues singer Bessie Smith, pianist Jelly Roll Morton, bandleader Louis Armstrong, composer Duke Ellington, dancer Josephine Baker and actor Paul Robeson were among the leading entertainment talents of the Harlem Renaissance.

1941: WWII. Many African-Americans were ready to fight for what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called the “Four Freedoms”— freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.

1947: Jackie Robinson’s historic baseball breakthrough.

1954: Brown v. Board Of Education. The U.S. Supreme Court delivered its verdict in Brown v. Board of Education, ruling unanimously that racial segregation in public schools violated the 14th Amendment’s mandate of equal protection of the laws of the U.S. Constitution to any person within its jurisdiction.

1955: Rosa Parks. Known as the “mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” was arrested for “violating” the city’s racial segregation ordinances. Because of her peaceful protest and standing up for what’s right, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the bus company’s segregation seating policy unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

1963: I have a dream. On August 28, 1963, some 250,000 people—both black and white—participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the largest demonstration in the history of the nation’s capital and the most significant display of the civil rights movement’s growing strength.

1964: Civil Rights Act—the most far-reaching act of legislation supporting racial equality in American history—through Congress in June 1964.

1965: The Voting Rights Act. This act ensured the protection of the voting rights of African Americans.

1968: The Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act was later expanded to address racial discrimination in the sale, rental or financing of housing units.

I was born in the 70’s, and the historical achievements I mention above is our history. Throughout this country’s history, I believe we have taken the steps necessary for EVERYONE to have the same opportunity TODAY to succeed in this country. WE have made progress. We have moved in the right direction. There is absolutely nothing holding us back in 2020.  

It’s important to keep American history in our schools. Our children need to feel proud to live in this great country. We cannot change what happened yesterday, but what we do today can achieve a better tomorrow.